MANILA – Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Wednesday assured government action on a human smuggling scheme using closed vans to illegally transport persons out of the National Capital Region (NCR) Plus areas, which are currently under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
“We’ll respond to the call of (Transportation) Secretary Art Tugade. I’ll direct the (National Bureau of Investigation) to look into these alleged incidents of ‘human smuggling’ and conduct a full-blown investigation if there is any indication that the practice is widespread,” Guevarra told reporters when sought for comment.
Tugade earlier said closed vans and trucks were being used to smuggle people outside Metro Manila to waiting vans outside the coverage of the ECQ, raising concerns about the possibility of a new mode of transmission of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
The announcement came after a video circulated on social media showing people inside a container truck with none of the individuals wearing face masks somewhere between Quezon province and the Bicol region, roughly eight hours from Metro Manila.
Passengers, contacted by the smugglers on social media, are reportedly instructed to go to a pick-up point and are taken out of the NCR Plus bubble, which remains on lockdown until April 11 following a surge in the number of Covid-19 cases.
Apart from Metro Manila, included in the NCR Plus areas are the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, and Bulacan. (PNA)